Three Stripes, You’re Out

There’s a brand that’s going after the owners of each of these trademarks for infringement against its famous logo. Can you guess what these trademarks are all allegedly infringing?

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No? You can’t figure out who’s going after Futbol Club Barcelona’s jersey stripes, Huck Faters’s stylized bird-flipping, Turner Sports’ stylized “E”, God is Limitless’s . . . whatever that is, and Tesla’s stylized “3”?

Here’s a hint:  They make clothing and shoes, but are best known for their shoes.

Still not sure?

Scroll on down for the answer.

 

 

It’s Adidas®, THE BRAND WITH THE THREE STRIPES® .

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Were you confused into thinking that Turner Sports was connected to Adidas?

Did it seem to you that Tesla had adopted the three horizontal lines to capitalize on Adidas’s fame?

I’m all for going after infringers. I completely understand the need to protect a trademark or risk losing it, but I think it’s possible to go too far.

What’s next? Suing Calphalon® if they use a picture of a frying pan with three strips of bacon? Forcing the U.S. Navy to change the insignia on a seaman’s uniform? Going after Verizon® when it provides good, but not great, cell phone coverage?

Sigh.

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Trademark Super Powers

Futbol Club Barcelona, known to its fans as Barça, is a worldwide powerhouse of professional soccer. It holds the record for the most FIFA wins.large

In May 2015 Barça filed an application to register a trademark made up of alternating blue and red vertical stripes. The application covered a bunch of stuff including shirts, jerseys, soccer shorts, footwear, and hats.

adidas, The Brand With Three Stripes®, was having none of that.

Do you think Barça’s red/blue striped logo is “confusingly similar” to the adidas logo? In other words, if you saw a running shoe with the blue/red stripe design would you think they were made by adidas?

Do any of these facts change your mind?

  • adidas has more than two dozen U.S. trademark registrations for their three-stripe logo.
  • adidas has been using its three-stripe logo on shoes since 1952 and on other athletic apparel since the 1960s.
  • adidas “sponsors internationally famous soccer players, including David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Mesut Ozil and Gareth Bale.” *
  • adidas uses the three-strip logo on soccer cleats, soccer balls, soccer jerseys, shin guards, and goalie gloves.
  • The Trademark Office examiner didn’t find Barça’s trademark confusingly similar to the ones owned by adidas.

Q:  What do you think happened after adidas opposed the application? Take some time to think about it. I’ll wait.

Lalalalalalalala.

A: Several months after adidas filed the opposition, Barça voluntarily agreed to withdraw its application.

Was that what you thought would happen?

 

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* Notice of Opposition, page 7.